Selecting the right IP Camera is more than ‘point and shoot’

Surveillance systems can be found almost anywhere these days, and with the growing popularity of low-cost WiFi enabled cameras and easy to set up DIY systems, they are no longer limited to big businesses or public spaces.  A well-designed Surveillance System that effectively covers the intended area with adequate field of view, brightness and depth of field can make all the difference when finding and apprehending a crook.

The amount of detail a camera can capture is a factor of the camera resolution and the distance of the subject from the camera.  During World War II, an American Scientist developed the Johnson’s Criteria, a method to establish the minimum required resolution across a person’s face for different levels of detection.  Those requirements were for analog video, but our interpretation translated to the digital realm are as follows:

  • Detection Zone – Adequate detail to detect the presence of a person. (4 px/face)
  • Recognition Zone – Adequate detail to recognize an individual with a high degree of certainty. (20 px/face)
  • Identification Zone – Adequate detail to identify an individual beyond a reasonable doubt. (Challenging conditions = 80 px/face; Good conditions = 40 px/face)

Selecting Surveillance Cameras


Powerhouse Engineering Partners illustrates these zones in plan form (sample below) to create a coverage map of your property, identifying holes in your surveillance system and awarding you the best chance at success, whether recovering your valuables, catching criminals, or just spying on wildlife.  Contact Powerhouse Engineering Partners for help designing your technology, lighting and electrical systems.

Powerhouse Engineering Partners is a design and consulting services firm that was founded in 2012 in Aspen, Colorado. They provide Electrical Design, Architectural Lighting Design, and Technology Systems Design as well as Construction Management and Client Advocacy services for new construction and renovation projects. Powerhouse Engineering Partner’s in-depth design documentation, detailed coordination, and professional project management services help Architects, Builders, and their Clients navigate the continually expanding electrical, lighting, and technology related systems to deliver the best systems at the most cost-effective prices.

Sample Surveillance System Site Plan